Jehan Daruvala took his first win of the 2018 FIA European Formula 3 Championship season after overcoming the challenge of Alex Palou in race one at Spa-Francorchamps on Friday, with the Indian becoming the ninth different winner of the year in only thirteen races.
Starting from pole position, Daruvala dropped behind Palou and Marcus Armstrong into La Source on lap one, but the Carlin Motorsport driver was quickly able to dispatch the Prema Theodore Racing driver to take back second, before jumping ahead of Hitech Bullfrog GP’s Palou on the restart following a first lap safety car.
The safety car was caused when Zandvoort race three winner Nikita Troitskiy was pitched into a spin by Daniel Ticktum, with the Russian banging wheels with Sacha Fenestraz before stopping with a broken suspension. The incident would have a dramatic effect on the race result post-race, but more of that to come!
Daruvala was able to pull away from Palou and took his second career European Formula 3 victory by 3.235 seconds, while Ralf Aron took over the lead of the championship by claiming third, although it was not without drama and a little bit of luck.
Early on, Armstrong was running third but suffered a puncture after contact with Hitech’s Ben Hingeley, with the New Zealander heading into the pits to retire while the Briton pitted for a new front wing before re-joining at the back of the field.
Aron managed to pass team-mate Guan Yu Zhou for fifth, which became third when Armstrong and Hingeley disappeared, but the Estonian was forced to defend his position from Hitech’s Enaam Ahmed, only for the duo to clash on the Kemmel Straight with three laps remaining.
Ahmed broke his right-front suspension in the incident and was notably angry with the incident as he drove back to the pits to retire, but it gave Aron a near-straightforward podium, although Ticktum was close to his gearbox as the Briton drove superbly to claim fourth…
However, stewards decided they did not appreciate the way Ticktum caused the first lap incident that knocked Troitskiy and handed him a twenty-second penalty that relegated him out of the points to thirteenth, promoting Mick Schumacher and Robert Shwartzman into fourth and fifth ahead of Motopark duo Jüri Vips and Marino Sato, with the German jumping ahead of his Japanese team-mate on the final lap.
Vips also survived contact at Les Combes with another of his team-mates, Jonathan Aberdein, which saw the South African retire from the race, while the final points finishers were Artem Petrov and Keyvan Andres of Van Amersfoort Racing in eighth and tenth, either side of Motopark’s Fabio Scherer.
Ferdinand Habsburg was another retiree as the Carlin Motorsport driver was pitched into a spin by Sophia Flörsch, which saw the Van Amersfoort Racing driver also handed a twenty-second penalty that relegated her from twelfth at the chequered flag to sixteenth in the final result. Zhou’s race also ended in similar fashion to that of team-mate Armstrong as he headed the pits with a puncture.
Spa-Francorchamps Race 1 Result
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